“Without the diversity that is in the restaurant business today, this business is not a business.”
That simple tenet drives Brianna Borin, Chief People & Culture Officer, and her team at Snooze, an A.M. Eatery, to make honoring individuality on all sides of the table a core value. The Denver-based chain, founded in 2006, today employs more than 3,000 people (aka Snoozers) across 67 restaurants. Snooze’s culture has always been inclusive, Borin says, but over the past several years the focus has sharpened.
“We operate in an environment shaped by the pandemic and by some major social reckonings. Companies that don’t welcome all talents, colors, sizes, genders and aspirations, whether someone is building a career in our industry or using it as a stepping stone, simply don’t work,” Borin says. “We’ve transitioned how we think about our people, our hiring, our efforts to understand people’s stories. And it’s not just about people of color or LGBTQ+ communities, it’s about people with disabilities, addictions, mental health issues and many other barriers to success. We have to understand how they can thrive in our business and provide equitable opportunities for all.”
Snooze works to do so by targeting not just DEI, but DEIB — diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. It fosters a sense of belonging, what Borin calls the ultimate goal, in part by ensuring that employees see others with whom they identify at work, by seeking their input, building relationships and developing diverse leadership teams. Women, for instance, now comprise 50% or more of Snooze’s C-suite and 60% of its regional managers. Borin credits the company’s womens’ leadership task force, created six years ago, with its success in creating strong pathways for women. Similar employee-led advisory groups are tapped for guidance on DEIB, sustainability, safety, training and, most recently, mental health advocacy.
“We need their voices at the table when making decisions and creating support tools. And, while we’re all moving fast and resources are limited, we also need to stop along the way and ask some key questions,” Borin says. “If I developed a training tool, did I ask three different types of learners for input? Did I ask the line cooks as equitably as the servers? Have I considered the cultural values and experiences of employees in different regions, because what’s effective in Denver likely won’t be in Atlanta. It takes time and energy to create programs that reach and work for everyone, but trying to have one message or tool across an entire organization doesn’t serve anyone well.”
Ultimately, Borin adds, Snooze’s philosophy is to lead with love. “There’s an art to relationship building, but we facilitate it,” she notes. “For example, we don’t have an organizational chart; we have a love chart. Your job as a leader isn’t to understand who reports to you and whom you give direction to. It’s to understand whom you’re responsible for caring for. Do you know about their family? Where are they from? What do they love to do? Do you greet them in their native language? When done well, leading with love fosters a real sense of belonging and allows people to shine and grow.”
Chief People & Culture Officer
Snooze, an A.M. Eatery, @briannaborin